Since Assistant Head Coach – Defense John Pagano has taken over defensive play calling duties, the
Raiders defense has been noticeably better. The defensive line has been firing on all cylinders, seeing production from a variety of players, and the group hasn't allowed a team to go over 300 yards the last two weeks.
On the other side of the ball, Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing has the ground attack rolling, as running back Marshawn Lynch thrived in the third quarter of the season.
This Sunday, the Oakland Raiders will face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, in an important divisional battle that could eventually decide who wins the division. To talk about the matchup, Pagano and Downing each took the podium to speak with the media about the game.
Assistant Head Coach – Defense John Pagano
Pagano spoke to linebacker NaVorro Bowman's work ethic, and praised his approach to the game.
"Number one, a great professional. How he takes pride every day and his preparation. How he just learns the offense and his study and understanding. Just the growth that he's done since that first week to now of really learning new languages, new how you say certain things. But it's been outstanding. He's such a pro to be around. Comes to work with the right mindset every day for the younger players to be able to see a veteran like that and how he works."
He shared what went through his head when he watched defensive end Khalil Mack's strip-sack on quarterback Geno Smith.
"That was 'Wow.' I mean when it happened it was one of those 'wow' plays that… He's a great player and great players make great plays like that. His effort alone throughout the whole game of how he rushes, how he attacks certain things, it was unbelievable."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing
Downing talked about running back DeAndré Washington, and his determination to find the end zone.
"He's got a nose for pay dirt. He's certainly a guy that wants to get in that end zone. We saw it last time we played the Chiefs and he ran one of our one-back powers in there and then got in there the other day against the Giants. He's a guy that definitely is going to fight hard to get into that end zone."
As a play caller, Downing hopes to continue learning during his entire career, and knows learning what works for different players is a process.
"As far as a learning curve, as far as a learning curve, that's something that I want to maintain throughout my career. Hopefully I'm never done learning lessons and getting better. So, there's certainly opportunities there for me to be more efficient with him and figuring out what he likes and what he doesn't like, but I think that's true with any player. I think whether it's Derek [Carr] and what route concepts he likes or Amari [Cooper] and what route tree fits him best, I always need to be on top of refining that and kind of polishing that down."
He commented on why the running game has progressed since the bye week.
"Yeah, certainly been able to pare things down a little bit, but also work on getting some things done out of different formations or different personnel groupings, highlighting the stuff that we think puts us in the best possible position to execute. So to answer your question in a word, yes."